Surah an-Nisa' (4:1)
It is referred to as ‘an-Nisa’ [The Women] – many of the rulings regarding women and family life are in this Surah. The word 'an-Nisa' occurs with more frequency in this Surah then in any other Surah - being mentioned 18 times [Interestingly, the word Man/Men - occur more times in this Surah than any other Surah - total of 8 times].
According to many scholars, the Surah was revealed after the Battle of Uhud, which left 70 of the Muslims killed. This situation brought about the need to address issues such as inheritance left by those killed etc. Hence in Surah an-Nisa, Allah Almighty address issues such as dealing with orphans [including children of those killed at Uhud] and inheritance.
There are 176 Ayaat in this Surah.
- Responsibility to take care of the family. Special care of orphans.
- Laws of inheritance. It is an obligation from Allah.
- Relations between men and women should be based on the principle of equity and goodness.
- Rules of marriage especially concerning the women who cannot be taken in marriage.
- Men and women's rights over their properties.
- Disagreement and reconciliation between husband and wife.
- Internal and external purity: rules of wudu, ghusl and prayers.
- Fulfill the trusts and refer all disputes to Allah and His Messenger.
- Those who decline to accept the decisions of Allah's Messenger are the hypocrites.
- It is the duty of the Believers to establish justice and protect the poor and oppressed.
- Hypocrites' attitude to the Prophet and to the Believers
- How to deal with the hypocrites who are prone to fighting
- Believers must respect the life of other Believers, Murder and its punishment.
- Believers must join and live with other Believers unless they are unable to do so.
- Prayers for the travelers and those who are in the battlefield.
- Always be just and do not take the side of the unjust.
- The secret councils of the hypocrites.
- Allah will not forgive Shirk. Shaitan's misleading of humans through deceptions and false promises.
- Some more directions about dealing with orphans and family disputes.
- Believers must stand for justice for all. Must pay attention to their faith.
- Hypocrites try to deceive Allah. They are lazy in their prayers. Their end will be the lowest part of hell.
- Allah's punishment for those who broke their covenant with Him. Some People of the Book tried to crucify Jesus, but Allah saved him.
- The message of Islam is the same as the message of previous Prophets.
- Invitation to the People of the Book to accept Islam and recognize the true teachings of Jesus. Some more elaboration on the law of Inheritance.
Consolidation of the Muslim Ummah. The main object of this Surah is to teach the Muslims the ways that unite a people and make them firm and strong. Introductions for the stability of family, which is the nucleus of community have been given. Then they have been urged to prepare themselves for defence. Side by side with these, they have been taught the importance of the propagation of Islam. Above all, the importance of the highest moral character in the scheme of consolidation of the Community has been impressed.
The main theme of this Surah is the building of a strong Islamic community. Guidelines are provided to the Muslims for uniting their ranks to be firm and strong. Instructions are given to stabilize the family structure, which is the nucleus of a strong community. Muslims are urged to prepare themselves for defense and to be the torchbearers of Islam. The importance of having a high moral character in building a strong community is emphasized.
Guidelines for the smooth running of family life are provided and methods to settle family disputes are taught. Rules for marriage are prescribed and rights of wife and husband are assigned fairly and equitably. The status of women in the society is determined and the declaration about the rights of orphans is made. Laws and regulations are laid down for the distribution of inheritance. Instructions are given to reform the economic system. The foundation of criminal laws is laid down. Drinking is prohibited. Instructions are given for cleanliness and purification. The Muslims are taught what kind of relations they should have with their Rabb and with their fellow human beings. Instructions are given for the maintenance of discipline in the Muslim community.
The moral and religious condition of the People of the Book is reviewed to teach lessons to the Muslims, and a warning is given to refrain from following in their footsteps. The distinctive features of hypocrisy and true faith are clearly marked for easy identification between the two. The setback in the Battle of Uhud had enabled the mushrik Arab clans, the neighboring Jews, and the hypocrites in Al-Madinah to threaten the Muslims from all sides. At this critical stage, Allah's grace filled the Muslims with courage and gave them the necessary instructions during that period. In order to counteract the fearful rumors that were being spread by the hypocrites, they were asked to make a thorough inquiry about their accuracy and then inform the appropriate leadership. Muslims were experiencing difficulties in offering their Salah during the expeditions when water was not available to perform ablution. In such circumstances Allah granted a permission to make Tayammum (purification with clean earth), and to shorten the Salah or to offer the "Salat-ul-Khauf," when they were faced with danger. Instructions were also given to those Muslims who were living in the enemy camps that they should migrate to Al-Madinah, the Islamic State.
Clear instructions are also given regarding the hypocrites and nonbelligerent clans. On one hand, the superiority of Islamic morality and culture is established over that of the Jews, Christians and mushrikin; on the other hand, their incorrect religious concepts, immorality, and evil actions are criticized to prepare the ground for inviting them to the Right Way.
Establishment of the new Islamic social order after removing the pre-Islamic Jahili system.
'an-Nisa' (Women) occurs more times in this Surah than in any other Surah - 18 times.
'Yateem' (Orphan) is mentioned 8 times - higher than any other Surah.
'Da'afah' (weak) is mentioned 8 times - higher than any other Surah.
'Ghafarah' (Forgiveness) is mentioned 21 times - higher than any other Surah.
'Hakama' (Ruling/wisdom) is mentioned 22 times - higher than any other Surah.
The Just System will protect the rights of the weak and vulnerable members of society albeit, women, orphans, marriage, forced marriage, inheritance and financial rights. We can also take note that Ghafara (forgiveness) appears most in this Surah. As people are weak, we should be fair to the weak and forgiving towards them.